UNWRAPPING ORLANDO’S HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS
With Christmas only a month away, holiday celebrations are already in full swing in Orlando, with visitors and residents alike invited to deck the halls at events in theme parks and beyond, from luminous light shows featuring millions of lights to the longest running holiday parade in Central Florida, and various holiday concerts and stage productions in Orlando’s performance venues.
And an early Christmas gift of hotel savings up to 30% off are also available to be unwrapped.
“Orlando adds a little extra magic this time of year with… holiday festivities to enjoy throughout the season for travellers of all ages,” says Visit Florida president and CEO Casandra Matej.
Information on Orlando’s holiday happenings can be found on VisitOrlando.com, but in the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the destinations “50 days” of Christmas celebration, now underway:
Walt Disney World (Through Dec. 30)
• Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns to Magic Kingdom Park for 24 select nights (through Dec. 22) this holiday season. This event offers an evening of merriment featuring “Minnie’s Wonder Christmastime Fireworks,” “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” complimentary cookies and hot cocoa at locations throughout the park, three jolly new photo opportunities and more (separate ticketed event).
• EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth (Nov. 25-Dec. 30) takes guests on a global holiday celebration with a candlelight processional, storytellers, costumed performances, seasonal food throughout the World Showcase nations, along with sights, sounds and flavours of the season celebrated by cultures near and far.
• Disney’s Animal Kingdom brings a holiday twist to the magic of nature with festive flotillas featuring holiday percussionists and Santa sailing down the Discovery River. Discovery Island will spring to life with artisan-sculpted puppets of artic animals like penguins, reindeer, polar bears and more during the Merry Menagerie. As nighttime falls, a holiday edition of the Tree of Life Awakening will begin accompanied by a heartwarming musical score.
• At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests can dine with Minnie and friends at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine, enjoy a holiday finale featuring Olaf during the For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, catch a glimpse of old St. Nick as he cruises in his candy-apple red convertible down Hollywood Boulevard and experience a captivating projection show on the Hollywood TowerHotel.
Universal Orlando Resort (Through Jan 1)
• Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure brings holiday charm to Seuss Landing with The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch. The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast returns this year, on select dates through Dec. 29, allowing guests to start their day with breakfast and appearances by Dr. Seuss characters, including the Grinch himself.
• Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter features seasonal holiday shows and festive decor in both Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Once night falls in Hogsmeade, guests can revel in a spectacular holiday projection on Hogwarts Castle during “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
• At Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, characters from Illumination’s “Despicable Me” and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek” and “Madagascar” – along with larger-than-life balloons, dozens of holiday floats, hundreds of festive performers, and Santa – will fill the streets of Universal Studios Florida. Guests can also enjoy the iconic sounds of the season with live performances by holiday artist, Mannheim Steamroller, at Universal Studios Florida on select dates Dec. 3-11.
• Universal’s Holiday Tour, a holiday add-on experience, offers guests a guided tour and special access to holiday entertainment taking place across Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, including an exclusive after-hours showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”, access to reserved seating at the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular,” character meet-and-greets and more.
SeaWorld Orlando (Select dates until Jan. 3)
• During SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, SeaWorld Orlando transforms into a winter wonderland featuring millions of sparkling lights throughout the park. Included with theme park admission, this year’s festivities include live performances, seasonal food, and character dining add-ons; Sesame Street Breakfast at SeaFire Grill, offering breakfast classics with Sesame Street characters dressed up in festive attire; and Dinner with Santa, an opportunity to enjoy a holiday meal with Santa Clause himself.
LEGOLAND Florida (Weekends Nov. 26-Dec. 31)
• Holidays at LEGOLAND will feature a giant LEGO Christmas tree, seasonal shows, holiday characters, special treats, LEGO® activities, twinkling lights and more.
BEYOND THE THEME PARKS
• Christmas Nights in Lights, an all-new seasonal attraction, will debut at Dezerland Park through Jan. 1. The immersive light show experience will take guests through a showcase of holiday displays and more than 1.5 million lights as part of a drive-thru light show fully synchronized to popular holiday classics tuned directly to each vehicle’s car stereo on a private radio frequency.
• Give Kids The World’s Night of a Million Lights returns for its third year at Island H2O Water Park through Jan. 1. The all-new venue transforms into a winter wonderland featuring millions of lights, luminous displays, festive family activities and live entertainment for a one-of-a-kind, fully immersive holiday experience. Proceeds from the event will once again benefit Give Kids The World Village, a whimsical non-profit resort that provides critically ill children and their families from around the world with magical week-long wish vacations at no cost.
• Crayola Experience’s Colorful Christmas, taking place through Jan. 3, includes a life-sized snow globe, complete with falling snow, a light show featuring Scarlet and her singing reindeer and crafting unique gifts.
• Harry P. Leu Gardens features a million dazzling lights, shining forests, magical displays, music and beautiful sculptures during “Dazzling Nights” Nov. 25- Jan. 1. This year’s event brings a completely redesigned show featuring new lighting installations, character meet-and-greets, a kids play area and food offerings.
• Celebrating its 70th year, Winter Park’s annual Ye Olde Hometown Christmas Parade, the oldest continuous holiday parade in Central Florida, will be held on Dec. 3 featuring over 80 participating organizations, marching bands, an appearance by Santa Clause and more.
• Gatorland’s Holiday Ho Ho Ho-Down, will return for its third year on select dates Dec. 3-18. The family-friendly event, included with park admission, will feature live music, festive food items and displays with interactive characters like Gator Claus, Merry Elves and more.
• The Outta Control Magic Comedy Holiday Show at WonderWorks Orlando will receive a holiday makeover this season, from Dec. 10-Jan. 1, featuring festive décor, special storytelling, and tricks for a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience along with audience participation.
• The Orlando Shakespeare Theater will present “A Christmas Carol”, on select dates Nov. 30- Dec. 24, the story of the ghosts of Christmas and Tiny Tim and Scrooge’s redemption at the Margeson Theater once again featuring fresh hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies at intermission.
• The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will host award-winning electronic violinist, dancer, and artist Lindsey Stirling for the Lindsey Stirling: Snow Waltz Tour on Nov. 30 in the Walt Disney Theater.
• The 10th Annual Violectric Holiday Show will be held at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park on Saturday, Dec. 10. The free, family and pet-friendly 90-minute concert will feature traditional holiday songs mashed up with classic rock tunes and modern hits, delivering an energetic and unique holiday show.
• The Trans-Siberian Orchestra will return to Orlando’s Amway Center to rock into the holiday season on Dec. 17 to present ‘The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.’
HOTEL DEALS AND EXPERIENCES
• Universal Orlando Resort will offer savings of up to 30% off five-night accommodations through Jan. 1, at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal’s Aventura Hotel as part of a special vacation package for the holidays.
• JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa will offer a ‘Deck the Halls’ experience, a complete décor package featuring a decorated Christmas tree, personalized stockings, and a holiday gift, for guests to transform any guestroom or suite into a festive wonderland from Dec. 17-Jan. 2.
• Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort will feature festive programming ranging from cookie decorating to pizza-making classes. The Resort’s complimentary kids camp, for ages 4-12, will offer interactive programming such as Santa’s helpers workshop craft time, holiday-themed scavenger hunts, supervised “polar plunge” swim times and more.
First published at Travel Industry Today